During the apartheid years, the nation of South Africa was segregated, censored, and oppressed. Coloured and Black Africans were disenfranchised from society and displaced from their homes. The majority of the white culture remained in positions of power and prosperity. However, Antjie Krog’s description of politics in the book Country of My Skull illustrates that political ideologies are much more complicated than supporting or dissenting apartheid. Similar to politics in the States, there are many people who fall somewhere in between rejecting and supporting apartheid.
Wednesday I learned that during the dark years of apartheid, you could walk into the house of many white, liberal families’ homes and find a collection of music that was rebellious in a conservative South Africa. According to the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, three popular artists in the liberal community were the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Rodrigeuz. The irony is that while Rodrigeuz never was popular in his home country of the United States, he was wildly popular in South Africa. In a country of 40 million people, Rodrigeuz sold at least half a million albums in South Africa (excluding the immeasurable black market albums that sold during periods of censorship).
Due to filtered and misinformed news, the country of South Africa thought Rodrigeuz committed suicide. Searching for Sugar Man is the story of South African Rodrigeuz fans who wanted to know more about their favorite, mysterious musician. Through their investigation, they discovered that Sixto Rodrigeuz was in fact alive and well. He was an American artist who never knew of his fame in South Africa and worked in manual labor to support his simple life in Detroit. Rogdrigeuz played a sold out tour in South Africa and has now been here several times since his resurrection. His music reminds me most of Bob Dylan with his voice, style, and lyrics that resonate with a community fighting for love in a hateful world. See below to hear one of my favorite Rodrigeuz songs.